Recycled Tin Can Luminaries


Recycled Tin Can Luminaries

With a little creativity, tin cans become surprisingly elegant luminaries instead of trash. Save money on expensive candle decor with this fun project.

Recycled Tin Can Luminaries


  • Empty Tin Cans
  • Candles
  • Thin Nails
  • Hammer
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Paper (or Tracing paper)


  1. Remove any labels or stickers from the can and clean inside and out. If your can has a jagged edge at top, use a metal file to file it down. Most safety can openers give you a clean edge.
  2. Measure the height and circumference of the can with the tape measure. Cut a piece of regular paper or tracing paper to these measurements.
  3. Fill the clean cans with water and place in the freezer.
  4. While the water is freezing in the cans, create a design on the paper. You can use the tracing paper to trace a design from craft books or clipart, or you can print a design directly from the web. For the more adventurous, simply draw a design on the paper.
  5. Check to see that the water is frozen in the cans. If so, tape your designed paper onto the can.
  6. Use the hammer and nails to punch dots around your design. The ice will prevent the can from bending as you hammer.
  7. Once you’ve punched along around your design, remove the paper and allow the ice to melt. Dry the luminary completely and place a candle inside.
  8. Light the candle and watch as the light plays through the holes of your design.

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This sounds like a very simple project. Too bad there are no pictures to share, I would have liked to see some completed. My only question though is, do you not have to wait quite a long time for the water to freeze in the can? Wouldn't a rolled towel or a piece of wood work too?

A "luminary" is a celebrity who is a inspiration to others. There's no picture, so I'm not sure, but I think what you are trying to make here is a luminaria.

I'm just new to this site and the crafts sound wonderful and fun. On the concern for the BPA in the tin can craft, the battery operated tea lights counld be a good alternative. They have one with a longer wick so to speak and I bought some at Home Depot that morph diffferent colors. Hopes this helps.

I also have the problem with the frozen cans bulging! I do not know why this happens either, but it would be nice to know so I can stop it from happening!

Irishdreams is right. It is true the cans are coated with BPA. We would all be pretty sick if it wasn't there. I would be concerned if the BPA would leach out as the candle burns. Before I make these I intend to look into this further. I agree it is a wonderful and pretty craft. Please let us know, Irishdreams, if there should be concern regarding the BPA. Do you know if there is a BPA coating inside of coffee cans?

I think only some cans have the plastic lining, which I was not aware contains BPA. These are the cans that have a white lining. Beans seem to always have this lining. The cans used for tomatoes and other "fruits" don't usually have it. I'm glad someone brought up this issue though. The craft instructions should specify on something this important!

I have tried using the freezing method before, but all my cans ended up with bulges out the bottoms and wouldn't sit flat anymore! Has this happened to anyone else? And does anyone know why this happens andor what to do about it? Thanks!

This sounds like a wonderful craft. However, the insides of tin cans are coated with BPA, a plastic or expoxy resin that protects your food from bacteria so you don't get food poisoning. When BPA is heated it leaches out and possibly could be in the fumes coming from the candle. I don't know if it would happen that way or not, but BPA is linked to brain cancer and lesions in the brain along with other medical issues. You can read a full article on BPA on my website if you are interested.

I've noticed some cans do have the white, plastic lining. I've noticed it with canned beans. But do ALL cans have this lining? I recently opened a can of tomatoes and it was all metallic inside. It didn't appear to have the lining you are describing. This is important to know, I'm glad you brought up the issue, and they should specify or have a warning in the instructions. Thanks

I enjoy doing the luminary lights for all occassions but I never thouhgt or heard of the freezing of H2O.Thank you for the helpful hint. Now I can enjoy making them even more, pplus I'll just have to pass that on to others!I'm sure they'll like this hint as well. THNX AGAIN


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